STATE

Make people flouting COVID home quarantine rules pay: Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan to local bodies

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government has sought active cooperation from local self-government institutions to strengthen the home quarantine system and make it foolproof so that rising COVID-19 cases can be brought under control in two weeks’ time.

Addressing the representatives of local bodies during an online review meeting on COVID management on Friday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan directed them to impose fines on people flouting quarantine norms and shift them mandatorily to institutional quarantine, where expenses need to be borne by them.

Soon after the meeting, the disaster management authority issued an order directing local bodies to monitor and support people in home quarantine. On Friday, the state reported 29,322 new COVID cases with a TPR of 17.91 per cent.

“There is an urgent need to reactivate the ward-level ‘jagratha samithis’ (monitoring committees) which have become inactive after commendable work during the first wave. Now that the positive cases have gone up, we need monitoring at the ward level. If there are 32,000 cases, the infected will be in 32,000 houses. Only local bodies can ensure their home quarantine. It is natural to have lethargy creeping in after a long period of COVID management. But we can considerably control the infection with active intervention in two weeks’ time,” said Pinarayi.

The neighbourhood monitoring committees that consist of government officials, rapid response teams, volunteers and residents associations will be constituted for effective monitoring of quarantine procedure. “People without facilities for home quarantine should be shifted to domiciliary care centres and those with co-morbidities must be moved to Covid first-line treatment centres. Ward-level committees should take the lead in providing medicines, essential items and non-COVID care,” he said.

The order issued by disaster management authority assigns the responsibility for ensuring fool-proof quarantine on health, police and revenue departments along with local bodies. The chief minister’s meeting assumed significance in the wake of the rise in the number of daily COVID cases and the central delegation pointing out the shortcomings in the home quarantine system for the spread of infection.

The laxity in monitoring at the local level has affected contact tracing which turned out to be a major problem when the spread is being led by the highly infectious Delta variant. The chief minister highlighted the challenges of Delta infection and lax quarantining leading to the spread within families and deaths among the vulnerable.

He also promised that vaccination coverage in local bodies lagging behind will be increased with special drives, he said. The CM also offered financial support for local bodies to step up institutional quarantine facilities.

Recalling the meeting with eminent health experts on Wednesday, Pinarayi said the expert opinion was against a general lockdown and that it was time to live with COVID by supporting the economic activities. The lockdown measures introduced by the government have found to be ineffective in controlling the spread.

The central delegation which visited the state in July end found problems with home quarantine and laxity in contact tracing and blamed these for the high spread of infection. The home quarantine was effectively implemented in the first wave to reduce the load in hospitals.

Though the government has started domiciliary care centres, it has been found that people prefer home quarantining. At present, over 80% of the people testing positive now are in home isolation.

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